Tag Archives: freedomworks

Speaking Into the Lives of Others

Just before Christmas, I had a conversation with the current director of a post-prison ministry called FreedomWorks.  We discussed the impact that other people have in our lives when they intentionally speak into our lives even in the smallest ways.  This man also teaches a class at Northwestern College.

Each semester, he poses a question to students, “Who made an impact on your life as you were growing up?”  His students often can name 3-5 people without pausing to think.  When he poses the same question to men in prison, most cannot even name 1 person.  And – more startlingly (in my opinion), many do not even understand the question.

The Search Institute, a secular research and curriculum non-profit located in Minneapolis, has developed a list of 40 common sense “developmental assets” that assist youth in becoming successful adults.  Asset #3 states that a young person receives support from three or more nonparental adults.  Asset #14 states that the parents and other adults in the lives of youth model positive, responsible behavior.  Essentially, the Search Institute has put a secular stamp on what we already know in the Church.

The Bible bursts with examples of older people mentoring youth: Eli mentored Samuel; Naomi mentored Ruth; Elizabeth mentored Mary; and Paul mentored Timothy.  The youth in these situations had lives that were changed because of the influence of the older people in their lives.  Scripture (Exodus 20: 5-6) attests to the fact that our choices today impact future generations.

I am super excited to discuss this further this weekend at the Empower Ladies Conference 2013: Live Your Story!  I get totally jazzed when I think about being able to share this truth – not only that our story matters but also that its impact on the lives of others has eternal benefits. We were created for purpose, and that purpose often means sharing of ourselves and our own stories to be there for others and – quite often – to a part of the change in others.

After we talk through this together for a brief break-out session, I hope that others will feel encouraged to share themselves with one new person – that person may not even understand the question: “Who made an impact on your life growing up?”

Side note: Registrations are still being taken for this conference.  Consider if God wants you to attend the one day event in a Minneapolis suburb this weekend!

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A Clean Slate

I have stared at the blank page on my computer screen for the past ten minutes with breaks to check email, Facebook, and order a Christmas present on Amazon.com.  Last night, I spoke with someone about how I “used to blog daily” and was intrigued by the conversation as it followed a friend’s comment on Facebook earlier this week: “…btw, did you know you haven’t written since October?! Having withdrawals here you know.”

I want to write a blog post.

I really do.  I always have so much to say inside my own head as well as verbally.  I always want to sit down and write. But what started out as a little project to slow my racing mind had turned into a demand on my life that I felt I needed to do so that others would be pleased.  I found my mood being swayed – positively and negatively – by the number of comments made on posts each day or the number of hits or shares I saw.  I would watch the stats of a post and hit refresh every five minutes.

This was not what I had intended to do when I started writing blogs.

And so, I needed to take a break.  I shared that publicly back in October – the last post before this one.  And the blog went silent.

Until today.

Last night, I attended a joint Christmas service at our church.  It was a joint effort between our church and a group called FreedomWorks, a post-prison ministry for men, which meets in our building on Thursday nights for food, fellowship, and a service.  As part of last night’s service, men involved in the ministry (therefore, former prison inmates) shared about their experiences, how the ministry had impacted their lives, and what their lives were now.  As they talked and then throughout the singing of Christmas carols, one phrase kept coming to me – “Clean Slate.”

Christmas is a great time to consider how invested in us God is.  He cared so much about our state as humans – sinful and separated – that He sent Jesus to us.  From that humble day in a stable in Bethlehem, Jesus was on a road to only one place – Calvary – where He would die to pay the price for the sin in me and then rise again to conquer death.

God provided Jesus to give us a clean slate.

I often live my life as if I am carrying around my list of dirty deeds, but that is not what God ever intended me to do.  Yes – He wants me to recognize that I am a sinner, but that is simply a truth that I must acknowledge so that I realize my need for Jesus.  Once I recognize that need and hold firmly to that truth, I am to live a life of freedom.  Galatians 5:1 tells me that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

Living life with the dirty deed list in one hand does not free me completely do and experience all that God has for me in this life.  He wants my hands free and ready to act in love to others.  He wants my hands free to experience the blessings He has for me.  God wants my heart to be free from the burden of guilt that I carry.

As we consider the manger this Christmas and thank God for all that He has done and will do, I think we need to remember that Christ came to endure life as a man and to die on our behalf to free us – to give us a clean slate.  And in living out our freedom in service to God and others, we honor His death until He comes again.

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Yesterday was Rick’s birthday.  Rick was the star of a previous blog post: “My Adoption – A Fairytale.”

Getting Rick the perfect present is not easy. The man has all of the gadgets one could possibly want.  He is a frequent stayer at Sam’s Club, so he sees the gadgets, buys the gadgets, and shares the gadgets!  We have been blessed to have some gadgets as well: turkey fryer, quesadilla maker, and more!

Surprising Rick is not easy either.  He has a Facebook account so that he can keep up on all of the happenings of his friends and family.  He is not much for writing status updates himself, and getting him to “like” a post is pretty much as active as he gets.  However, this past summer when my son posted a picture of his swollen eye due to a bug bite, Rick knew – because of Facebook – before I did.  In fact, he texted me to find out what happened!

Yesterday, though, I surprised Rick.  Early in the morning, I called Hugo’s (the grocery store across the street) and ordered balloons for delivery. I still giggle when I think about the man protesting to me, “The only thing across the street from us is an appliance store.”  I kindly told him that I meant across the other street!  As I heard from Rick himself, the balloons showed up at the same time that his sister called to wish him a happy birthday and just as his wife and her daughter entered the motel with birthday lunch.  He was surprised!  The full package was a great mind picture for me from five hours away, and I am glad that so many people celebrated him.  What fun!

We spend a lot of time running around doing things for ourselves and for our jobs, but sometimes we need to think about others.  November is National Adoption Month, and I have been challenged to think about orphans and their plight for the past 15 days.   Adoption and orphan care is just one way that we can think beyond our own lives.  Our neighbors, our families, and our friends need to know that we think about them and that we care about them.

I am awful at remembering birthdays.  Thank goodness for Facebook and its reminders! Thank goodness for Facebook and its ability to write on people’s walls with some special thought.  I am also horrible at remember other days that are important to those who are important to me.  However, I do love to get things for people when I think of them.  When I saw chocolate chip cookie dough in a box for sale at Target, I had to buy some for my friend who loves cookie dough.  When I see chocolate at CVS while picking up a prescription, I have to buy some for our church custodian.  He also likes Pepsi, but I will not spend money on Pepsi!

Taking the time to celebrate our friends, families, and coworkers, as well as reaching outside of own homes into causes such as post-prison ministries and orphan care is important.  What will I do today to show someone else that they are important to me?  Yesterday, I sent Rick balloons.  Today, I will ….

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